Abbe Museum archaeological field school at Tranquility Farm

The Abbe Museum archaeological field school at Tranquility Farm was a great success again this year. A terrific group of 14 students and volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 70 spent the week carefully excavating five meter-square units, learning about good record keeping and artifact identification, and so much more.

Some of this year’s exciting finds included two large clusters of pottery, a large amount of animal bone, including fish, deer, moose, bear, and dog, and a small number of bone and stone tools. Students took their time as they encountered complicated stratigraphy representing several thousand years of periodic occupation of the site by the Wabanaki. Cultural features uncovered included a fire hearth and some kind of pit/trench feature, as well as stratigraphy we think is associated with the floor of a wigwam structure.

In addition to the field work, this year’s participants experienced the Abbe’s goal to present the first-person voice and perspective of Wabanaki people in all that we do. Evening and lunchtime programs included a presentation on the Machias Bay petroglyphs by Donald Soctomah, Passamaquoddy tribal historic preservation officer, a flint-knapping demonstration by Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot tribal historic preservation officer, a pottery analysis program with an emphasis on agency and indigenous archaeologies with Bonnie Newsom, Penobscot, and a tradition music performance by George Neptune, Abbe Museum educator and Passamaquoddy artist. Students also learned more about freshwater fish in Maine, the identification and analysis of animal bones, and archaeology being done in other parts of North America from other presenters.

This wonderful week of learning would not be possible without the leadership of Dr. Arthur Spiess, senior archaeologist for the state of Maine and Abbe trustee, and Dee Lustusky, long-time Abbe field school participant and stellar volunteer. We also were joined this year by one of our 2013 summer interns, Mark Agostini, who was able to assist folks new to archaeology and continue his own learning in the field. And of course we are incredibly thankful for the support and interest of the extended Tranquility Farm family, especially Boots Liddle, Mary Cox Golden, and Abbe board chair Ann Cox Halkett.